The Nationals 2016
Various Bands and Conductors
Doyen Recording: DOYCD368
The programme notes on this CD start by reminding the reader that 2016 was a truly memorable year when Cory Band completed the grand slam of contest results and retained it's National title. Only right then that a good portion of the disc is handed over to the band with three items taken from the pre-results concert played by them.
The first is Malambo - a gaucho dance by Alberto Ginastera. The band are, as we have come to expect, on top form and in top gear in this fast and very 'Latin' piece, top playing and a great opener to the disc.
Phoenix (Goodwick) Band are next up. Their performance of Music for Kantara by Kenneth Downie won them the fourth section title. Very musical, tight playing that shows just where the fourth section is relative to the third - very close indeed. Three movements of contrasting music make this very listenable and I guess was enjoyed by the bands preparing for the contest.
Listening to the next track which features Crofton Band with Dean Jones as they won the third section competition made me compare the relative difficulty of these two lower section test pieces. Lake of the Moon by Kevin Houben, is a portrayal of the story of The Aztec nation. It is quite 'grand' in style as would befit a film of the story perhaps? A good 'listen' - especially immediately after the Kenneth Downie piece - very close in difficulty but well apart in character.
Steve Stewart, the ever popular Cory soprano soloist features next in Live and Let Die by Paul Mc Cartney. I was not present at the concert (having left for a train home after the contest) but it sounds as though he has exchanged his cornet for a trumpet as he soars in the stratosphere of range in this well - received solo. I personally don't like his 'clipped' phrase endings that don't feature in the original, but what do I know?
Stannington Band under Derek Renshaw clearly enjoyed their trip from Yorkshire as they lifted the Second Section Trophy with an excellent performance of Images by Stephen Bulla. Truly 'epic' music as it describes the battle of Iwo Jima in the Pacific. This is seriously good playing and must have helped the judges in their decision, musically excellent.
"Personal favourite warning" - Ballet for Band I make no apologies for voting this track as my favourite of the CD. This piece is played so well by St Dennis under Darren Hawken. The piece is the composer's image of the characters in a ballet, comic and beautiful and so descriptive (although Horowitz claims there is no story to the music).
Cory feature in their concert again with Neal Hefti's Cute, Cory can, let's face it, play any style of music brilliantly but they really put on the style in this classic.
So it is finale time, Journey of the Lone Wolf - and what a finale. I had listened to this piece lots as it was prepared by my son's band and it grew on me. When I got to the contest it functioned very well as a test piece in that it sorted quality and style from just 'competance'. Simon Dobson reckoned the Cory performance was just about perfect as to how he envisaged his piece. It is complex, has challenging solos and was not for the faint hearted! The bonus on this track is that the listener can enjoy the absolutely brilliant playing of Helen Williams who must have won the outstanding soloist award by miles.
The disc is well-presented and nicely engineered and balanced, despite two performance venues. The sleeve notes are comprehensive and informative.
As an audience member at the finals, would I buy the CD? Probably not, but I am sure this disc is worthy for those who were unable to attend or are linked to any of the bands.
1. Malambo - Cory Band conducted by Philip Harper
2. Music from Kantara - Phoenix Brass conducted by Luke Jenkins, (Winners 4th section)
3. Lake of the Moon - Crofton Silver Band conducted by Dean Jones, (Winners Third section)
4. Live and Let Die - Soloist Steve Stewart with Cory Band and Philip Harper
5. Images for Brass - Stannington Brass Band conducted by Derek Renshaw (Winners Second section)
6. Ballet for Band - St Dennis Band conducted by Darren Hawken, (Winners First section)
7. Cute - Cory Band conducted by Philip Harper
8. Journey of the Lone Wolf - Cory Band conducted by Philip Harper, (Winners Championship section)